There was a touch of glamour around in Capel Library at our September “In” meeting!
It was all down to Debra Johnson who had come to talk about her fascinating career as a milliner, designing and creating a whole range of fabulous headwear.
Whatever the occasion, whatever the colour and style of your outfit, Debra is able to produce just the shade and design of either hat or fascinator that will suit it perfectly.
As a child, Debra had always been interested in fashion, designing and sewing outfits for her dolls. Her mother made all Debra’s own clothes, but here too Debra insisted on choosing colours and styles that she liked, as she had a good imagination and vision of how the finished garments would look.
When she left school she had very little help with careers advice, being told she could be a nurse, hairdresser or secretary. She chose the secretary option, working in banks and insurance companies where she was not allowed to dye her hair or let her creative forces show at all! She was known as “Punky Deb”, and while living in London liked to hang around the King’s Road in Chelsea, sketching the fashions she saw around her and trying to re-create them using bed-sheets and off-cuts of fabric.
After qualifying as a teacher at Thames Poly in Roehampton she taught at Stanmore College in a multi-ethnic community which she loved, as she could be herself. To keep her teaching job she took an “Art & Design” degree part-time over 5 years and in 2003 she graduated from the University of Westminster. She learnt how to use I.T. and photographic software to create her own designs and worked for several famous companies. However she missed using the full range of her creative instincts, and decided to learn millinery. She enrolled in a course run by Rose Cory, who was the Queen Mother’s milliner for several years, and whose students come from all over the world to study with her. Debra says she feels very privileged to have been taught by such a well-respected name in fashion.
Debra had brought along a selection of fascinators for us to try on, which was great fun! Handmade fascinators are less brittle than mass-produced ones. Debra uses Sinamay, a fabric made from a grass grown in Asia. It is quite stiff but very malleable to work with and keeps its shape, and she tends to buy the natural fabric and dye it to achieve the required colour.
Debra has opened a tea-shop at Assington, near Sudbury, which acts as a shop-window for her creations. She also runs craft workshops of all kinds, including fascinator-making. To find out more check her website at: www.assingtonbarn.co.uk
So if you have a wedding, or other formal occasion on your calendar, or if you plan to go to “Ladies’ Day” at Ascot, now you know where to get some advice on your headwear!
Our upcoming meetings include a talk from a lady registrar, a make-up demonstration, a shopping trip to Norwich and a craft evening, followed by the Christmas Social. Oooops! Sorry – I didn’t mean to mention the “C” word!
For further information please see our website at: www.capelladies.com or ring 01473 311870.